Just a Matter of Time? Zuffa Execs Plan on Reevaluating Strikeforce

August 24, 2011
Comments off
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta

LOS ANGELES – When Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, purchased Strikeforce this past March, rumors immediately began to circulate about the demise of the mixed martial arts promotion headed by Scott Coker.

After several months and nine fight cards, promises from UFC and Zuffa executives to run Strikeorce with a “business as usual” mentality have been kept, at least as far as rolling out events and not going into any sort of “dark” period. The lingering doubt of Strikeforce’s longevity continues to echo, however, with the term of its current Showtime deal set to expire soon.

“I think it’s right around February of next year,” Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta recently told MMAWeekly.com about the length of the deal between Strikeforce and Showtime.

According to Fertitta, Showtime has extensions that could take the partnership into 2014 and, until the initial deal expires, Zuffa will fulfill the obligation written in the contract and continue to put on events.

Once the deal expires, though, it’s a whole different ballgame.

The end of the contract will signal Zuffa’s freedom to do what they want with Stirkeforce without the influence of Showtime. From December being the final Strikeforce event to the Challengers series acting as a farm system for the UFC, the list of possible outcomes has been tossed around by a litany of speculators.

Fertitta dismissed rumors like these and, again, stressed Zuffa’s contractual obligation, but the sense that they will reevaluate their position with Strikeforce is strong. In fact, Fertitta said once the contract is done, they’ll take a look at their options.

“At the end of the day, Showtime is contracted to receive a product, and we’re going to keep giving it to them,” he said. “They want us to do the eight Strikeforce shows, the Challengers shows. We’re going to do no different than what we’ve been doing the last four or five months, since we owned the company; keep delivering great fights and keep that going as long as the contract says, and then, at that time, we’ll reevaluate.”

Strikeforce’s next event will be the semifinals of the organization’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 10 in Cincinnati.

Follow @Erik_Fontanez on Twitter or e-mail Erik Fontanez.
For more
UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow MMAWeekly.com on Twitter and Facebook.

  • j-k-martin

    Unless Zuffa wants a minor league system they won’t keep another promoter around. Even one they own.

  • Cptmats

    There are alot of young fighters out there that will be great fighters one day but just aren’t ready for the UFC ! I think it would be in Zuffa’s best Interest to keep Strikeforce as a platform for devolping young talent so that those who are good enough dont end up with another organisation when their ready for the big time !

    • grimsgrind


  • shakejunt

    Strikeforce events look pro-wrestling… mad unprofessional. Loot the talent and keep it as a regional recruiter.

  • We all better keep an eye on ProElite, who will be making their promotional debut on Saturday in Hawaii, with most observers fixated on the goings-on in Brazil. The demise of Strikeforce, should it happen, could be a huge break for them.

    If I’m the CEO of ProElite, I’m trying like the devil to lure Fedor into signing with me – and to get him to commit to going down to 205, the weight class to which he is probably best suited at this point (and ProElite already has Andrei Arlovski at HW, and Kendall Grove at 185).

    • jared499

      I have posted many times that I want Fedor to continue fighting, and I am sure I will get a comment for this one too.

      But Pro Elite would be insane to sign Fedor at any weight class at this time. First of all, let us look at history, EliteXC, Affliction, and StrikeForce sign him to try to be competitive with the UFC, pay him way too much money, have no depth in the division to have him fight on a regular basis, and are forced to co-promote with M-1 Global. All three companies are out of business now, with the exception of SF who was forced to sell to Zuffa. Secondly, he is going to ask for too much money. If you are signing a fighter to be a major backbone in the promotion, he is going to require a big contract. As big of a supporter as I am of Fedor, he is not deserving of this type of contract right now, if ever again. Lastly, M-1 Global, need I say more. Whatever company Fedor fights for there will be some sort of co-promotional clause in the contract. ProElite (or any other promotion for that matter) does not need M-1 to help bleed more money out. M-1 has been double dipping thier chips in too many people’s salsa for too long now, by getting big money for Fedor and then getting promotional cuts because they have Fedor. If they want a promotion so badly, use some of that money that you have been stealing from Fedor and start you own.

      ProElite needs to run business as under the radar as possible, stay out of the sight of the “All Seeing Eye” (UFC) and build their promotion from the ground up. And when they have a strong roster and following, make their move to Mordor while the eye is fixed on Bellator.

      Just my opinion.

      P.S. Like how I got the “LOTR” analogy in there.

      • Unador

        yeah man,
        and Bellator even sounds like a name straight out of LOTR.
        nice work.

        I agree. Fedor is most likely going to cost too much cash for a smaller circuit. And Fedor would bring too much unwanted attention to a ‘young’ promotion.
        THo I still want to see him cut to 205 and round his game out a bit.
        As for opponnents? for me, he’s back to fighting nobodies, or anybodies until he re shows us what he’s made of.

  • 2000MileWall

    Regardless of what some people think,the goal of the majority of pro fighters,is to fight for the UFC…So even if they stop promoting Strikeforce,they will have no proplem getting fighters over to the UFC.
    The UFC as always used smaller promotions as a farm league,even without owning any if the promotions.They did a good job getting the top fighters of all ages in the UFC before they bought Strikeforce,and I don’t know why some think that would change if they shut the doors…Other promotions will gain whatever the UFC doesn’t take.
    At the end of the day the UFC will make the decision that is right for their company!
    Inorder to pay put on shows and thier fighters,the UFC must make a profit,and for some reason that is lost on a lot of fans.

  • grimsgrind

    Strikeforce needs to stay alive. It’s crucial for up and comers, and the UFC needs it as well, or else where will alot of the up and coming talent come from? Strikeforce is a farmteam for UFC. But a much needed one. Lorenzo knows this, I’m sure he’s got big plans to revamp Strikeforce and manage to stay on Showtime. SF and Showtime have a good thing going, and with alittle help from UFC, they can make it a very entertaining promotion. I see Strikeforce staying on Showtime in the future and being a crucial part of bringing new talent into the spotlight. Only makes sense…Besides, Showtime is a good network for sports, especially MMA. I know alot of people support it already, and with a revamp of a new & improved Strikeforce, I know many more people that would start to support it.